For the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Thursday, headliner Elvis Costello sported the sartorial splendor of a purple hat with a button picturing the late Allen Toussaint front and center.
Musical brothers, Elvis and Allen toured the world post-Hurricane Katrina with their album “The River in Reverse,” and once when I had the chance to thank him for raising awareness for New Orleans through his work with Toussaint,
Costello said: “I should be thanking him.”
He’s still thanking his mentor, with a set that included Toussaint’s “I Have Cried My Last Tear” and a sweet reminiscence of their studio work together. Overall, Costello blazed through a set with The Imposters that was anything but somber. He wielded a bullhorn with gusto during “Watching The Detectives,” and any song with props inspires rocking out.
Across the track, Buffi Sainte-Marie was burning down the house, after a compelling interview by Alison Fensterstock. With a dedication to Leonard Peltier and other Native American revolutionaries, she belted out a “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee” that seemed to make the afternoon rain retreat quietly back to the heavens. With Brandi Carlile, The Suffers, Rickie Lee Jones with Spider Stacy and The Lost Bayou Ramblers - it was an afternoon of powerhouse women vocalists including Mia Borders with her take on Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
The other theme of the day was guitars, and plenty of them. Tedeschi Trucks Band with Jimmie Vaughan and Billy F. Gibbons, Gary Clark, Jr. and Sonny Landreth had scorching sets on a rainy day. To say nothing of Elvis Costello, with and without bullhorn. Jazz Fest weekend two kicked off with a bang.